Emergency workers win race against tide

Birling Gap. Car smashed through fence and landed on the beach at foot of cliffs on 18th June. Picture taken 19th June 2012 E25056N
Birling Gap. Car smashed through fence and landed on the beach at foot of cliffs on 18th June. Picture taken 19th June 2012 E25056N
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A MAN was winched to safety in a dramatic rescue after his car plunged over cliffs at Birling Gap this week.

The man’s car smashed through fencing at the car park and landed on the beach below on Monday night.

Emergency services rushed to the scene and because of the rapidly rising tide, a fast paced rescue took place which eventually saw the driver being taken to hospital.

Among crews sent to the scene were the fire service’s technical rescue unit, four fire engines and an aerial ladder platform.

Crew Commander David Nichols said factors which had to be considered included a rapidly rising tide and the safety of both the casualty and the emergency services, who worked closely together from the moment they arrived at the scene.

He said, “We checked the tide times en route and knew it was coming in and were told it would be high tide at 11.30pm.

“When we arrived at the scene we went to the cliff’s edge and could see the car on the beach on its roof.

“The ambulance crew members were treating the casualty and the water line was around three metres behind the vehicle, which put pressure on us to get the casualty out fast.

“When we arrived on the shoreline we were told by the paramedics that they wanted the casualty out quickly.

“He was on oxygen and conscious as we dug away some of the pebbles next to one of the side windows.

“We were speaking to the gentleman all the time and managed to get him out via the side window.

“Ambulance crews stabilised him on the beach where a coastguard team set-up a recovery stretcher.

“The casualty was then winched up the cliff and taken away to hospital by ambulance.”

Once the casualty had been safely removed from the beach the technical rescue unit crew from Lewes was tasked with job of moving the vehicle further up the beach, away from the rising tide, so it could then be recovered by the police.

“All the emergency services worked extremely well together in this dynamic situation.

“Everyone got heavily involved with the rescue and recovery, resulting in the successful conclusion of the casualty being airlifted to hospital.”